SENSITIVE TOPICS AHEAD!
I write this to share a story I hid deep inside, a story I fear being read, a story I wish no one ever experiences, but sadly many do.
I grew up surrounded by men, an only girl in a family of seven, I loved and trusted all my brothers, for I knew safety was home. safety was in the confines of our room, our room, one I shared with my 3 brothers. Growing up, money was tight but still life was good, we went to good schools, slept with our tummies full and walked around well dressed. I remember family road trips to the rural, food made from mud and of course, family. Family made everything better.
One trip was different though, coming back we had a new guest to add, a cousin who wanted to study in the city, tired of the local run down college back home. A Harambee was done, and he was sent away to live with us. I was happy, gained another brother, 7-year-old me couldn’t stop smiling, another family member, another blessing.
“I know it’s hard adjusting to live with an extra person in a crowded room kids, but remember a guest is a blessing, I don’t want to hear any complains, understood?”
We all understood, no body wants to embarrass Mummy, so we all promised to be on our best behaviour.
Days passed, and we all got along so well that when asked, 7-year-old me had 5 brothers now, 5 brothers to play with, to eat with and to go home to, where home was safe, safe was our home.
A community pool opened up in our neighbourhood, one that was affordable to us, provided we saved up a week of our allowances, a measly Ksh 50 per head, so we did. And I couldn’t have been more excited, even though the only waters I knew were the rushing stream near Grandma’s house in the village and the big lake, where only big boys could swim because of the sharks and crocodiles.I’d watched Jaws with my brothers, there was no way I would risk swimming in shark and crocodile infested waters, I heard even an anaconda was spotted swimming one day! Finally I would know what it was like to swim. I couldn’t even sleep the day before.
Clad in my first ever mtush Disney one-piece,I was the happiest 7-year-old girl in the pool, it even had Bella and Cinderella! I stayed in the kiddie side of the pool, splashing water and holding the rail and kicking my legs into the water, enjoying with all the kids my age, and occasionally hitching a ride on the backs of my brothers’ backs, while others pretended to be sharks, it would have been the best day of my childhood, if the story ended there. The reason I probably remember everything in detail was because of the events that occurred after it.
My new ‘brother’ wanted to carry me around in the water, so I hopped excitedly, hoping for another games of Jaws and Crocodiles, only he was the monster after all. Creeping hands into my beautiful Disney one-piece, one that I found and burned a couple of years ago.
“SSSSShhhhh, don’t make a noise, I promise you’ll enjoy it, don’t let anyone see”
I didn’t enjoy it, I was confused and angry and scared, I was terrified. I didn’t know what was going on and I couldn’t tell anyone, not even Mummy, because she said
“NO COMPLAINS. BE ON YOUR BEST BEHAVIOUR”
That was the first time it happened, in a public pool, in front of my parents and 4 siblings.
Days later, it happened again.
Being the youngest and in Class One, school always ended early for me, I loved it because I had more time to read and play. I had a very healthy books collection because whenever I did something good, I was always rewarded with a new book, it wasn’t new in age, but it was a new story to read. I knew all about the Cunning Fox, the Quick Hare, the Wise Owl and the Brave Lion.
I had left school early, as always and I was excited to be home. I had recently passed my Mid Term examinations and I already had 3 books waiting for me at home. If I had realized earlier than it was home, I would have willingly stayed bored at school till 5 waiting for my brothers than go back home.
It cornered me in a room, alone and scared, still in my uniform where I was gagged and shoved on the floor. I tried fighting but it twisted my arms, successfully dislocating a shoulder, I think I passed out several times where I woke up in pain, in bed, face free of the tears I had wept, begging it to stop hurting me, begging it to stop, crying for it to leave me alone. It said it would kill me if I ever said anything, it was easy to squeeze my throat, it showed me by doing it. Or smothering me with a pillow, it was easy to do it too.
I walked around with a dislocated shoulder until it was too painful for me to handle, I showed Mommy and told her I had fallen in school playing at the monkey bars. It said no one would believe me, even if they did ask me, what happened, how was I to know what was going on? How would I say it? Every one was blind to it, and they loved it so much. When it realized, it had hurt my shoulder bad enough that I had to go to the hospital, it started being “nice and sweet.”
For 3 years, until it moved away to start a life, it bribed me with sweets and soda, promising never to hurt me again, never again. It was sweet to me for a long time, long enough for me to nearly forget.
But it happened again, again and again.
For 3 years until it moved away after finishing college.
I had stopped talking as much, no one noticed.
I didn’t want to leave the house as much, no one noticed.
I grew terrified of my own father and brothers, no one noticed.
It said I deserved it anyways.
I was JUST 7 YEARS OLD!!!!!!!
I took an oath to hate men, they were monsters, I had lived and slept in the same room as one.
The room that was safe, haunted me in my nightmares.
I had night terrors, no one noticed.
I woke up in tears, whimpering and crying no one noticed.
I’ve never spoken out loud about IT, how could I?
I see it every holiday when I go to Grandmas
I see its wife
I see its daughters
I know Mum and Dad love it so much.
They call it son.
So how could they believe me?
No one would
They never noticed anything, why would they now?
The rage I feel for IT is so consuming so powerful
I wish I could burn it to ashes with my eyes
I shall never forget it
Never forgive it
The monster that I lived with
I can’t say who I am, or who IT is,
I never was one to cause chaos, I wonder if anyone would believe me, if they did, what would happen to it? Will they risk breaking up not one but two families based on something they never knew about?
I’ve seen around and I’ve heard the excuses.
I still live with nightmares, I’ve seen therapists, counsellors and life coaches, it does get better, but when?
Every time a story like mine comes up in the news, I wake up terrified of my own shadow.
Every time I see the backlash and stigma in this topic, I am relieved I never shared mine, then angry, so angry and furious that our uneducated and uncivilized society would blame the victim, again and again.
I contemplated killing myself when I was ten, ten year olds SHOULDN’T EVEN THINK about killing themselves, but I did, I have tried several times, but I now know that it wasn’t my fault, I DESERVE TO LIVE, I DESERVE TO BE HAPPY.
Slow but steady, I have rough nights where I wish I could just off myself, I hate being touched by anybody at all times, I have panic attacks randomly and I am on depression medication. I have never been in a relationship, simply because I still do NOT trust easily, I understand that not all men are monsters, but I am yet to believe it myself. It took me years to accept love from and trust the male figures in my lives, my father and brothers, SEVERAL YEARS.
I AM A SURVIVOR!
I tell my story, not to gather any pity, but to remind others and myself, I have lived this far, reached this far, and hopefully will one day reach where I want to be.
“WhAt WeRe YoU WeArInG?”
A one piece long-sleeved Disney swim suit.
“YoU sHoUlDn’T hAvE wOrN tHaT!”
I was 7, and I was swimming.
“YoU InStIgAtEd It!”
I was SEVEN YEARS OLD!
“PrObAbLy DoN’t FeAr God?”
I was raised in a Religious household, Religious God-fearing Household.
“WhY dIdN’t YoU SaY aNyThInG?”
I was terrified for my life, I was tied, gagged, smothered by a pillow, choked and it dislocated my shoulder.
“YoU cOuLd HavE sToPpeD IT!”
HOWWW????? I WAS SEVEN! HE WAS OLDER! STRONGER! MORE POWERFUL!
“ThReE YeArS? YoU oBvIoUsLy LiKeD iT iF iT hApPeNeD fOr ThAt LoNG!”
Any more ignorant and stupid idiotic questions?
All those who blame sexual abuse victims are as bad as the abusers themselves, we fail to provide a proper supporting society, and continue to stigmatize and terrify the survivors more.
UNTIL WHEN WILL PEOPLE SIMPLY UNDERSTAND THAT NO IS NO!
Child molesters and sexual abusers might be the scum of the earth.
We live in a terrifying world where a Sexual harassed or abused victims called a liar, even when there is proof, a coward for not stepping up sooner, a
Rape culture trivializes the experience of women while at the same time blaming us for what we’ve experienced. It perpetrates myths about why men rape and simultaneously underplays and exaggerates its impact on victims and survivors.
1 in 3 women has experienced sexual harassment.
Every 5 minutes, someone somewhere is being raped.
To every survivor reading this.
You are strong,
You are beautiful,
It was NOT your fault,
It never was, never will be.
I am sorry for society, its backward thinking and stupidity.
YOU ARE NEVER ALONE!
*BASED ON A TRUE STORY, SOME DETAILS HAVE BEEN EDITED TO PROTECT THE SURVIVOR.
ORGANIZATIONS THAT CAN HELP:
Childline Kenya : www.childlinekenya.co.ke
Wangu Kanja Foundation : www.wangukanjafoundation.org
Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC- Kenya): www.gvrc.or.ke
Centre for Assault Recovery of Eldoret (CAR-E): +254 532033471, +254 53 2061005
Gender-based Violence Recovery Centre- Coast Province General Hospital ;
Divinity FGM Rescue Centre: http://divinityfoundation.com/
CARA Girls Rescue Centre: https://caraprojects.com/
Women’s Rights Awareness Programme (WRAP): http://preventgbvafrica.org/member/womens-rights-awareness-programme-wrap-2/